The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), created more than a decade ago by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, has been a clear success. The program has contributed to the 60 percent reduction in carbon pollution from power plants in those states since 2005, while fueling the transition to a clean energy future.
Smart investments in clean energy programs have been critical to the program’s success. With the nine current RGGI states having recently tightened the program’s limits on power plant pollution, and with New Jersey and Virginia aligning themselves with RGGI, it is important that the region invest revenue from the program in ways that move as quickly as possible toward a clean energy future.
Smart clean energy investments can make a big difference. Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states saved 4.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity and cut global warming pollution by 2.4 million tons with their clean energy investments from 2009 through 2016.[i] If New Jersey were to rejoin RGGI, adopt a strong cap on power plant emissions, and follow the example of leading states by investing revenues from carbon pricing in clean energy, its investments from 2020 through 2030 could save nearly 9 million megawatt-hours of electricity, equal to the amount of electricity consumed by more than 96,000 households over that period.[ii]
To maximize the benefits for the environment and residents of the region, every state should commit to investing carbon revenue in clean energy and adopt the best practices for investment of carbon cap revenue developed by leading states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has contributed to the 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants in the region from 2005 to 2017, while reducing energy bills for consumers in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
Smart investments of revenue from RGGI are driving clean energy progress in the region. Among the most effective investments have been those that:
Not every investment made with carbon revenue has helped to move the region toward a clean energy future. States should avoid common pitfalls, including:
To maximize the benefits of the regional carbon program, states must make smart decisions to implement it – especially when it comes to investing revenue in clean energy. To get the most benefit out of RGGI:
[i] The sum of benefits presented in RGGI, Inc., The Investment of RGGI Proceeds through 2014, September 2016, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20180807173355/https://www.rggi.org/sites/de..., plus RGGI, Inc., The Investment of RGGI Proceeds in 2015, October 2017, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20180925082929/https://www.rggi.org/sites/default/files/Uploads/Proceeds/RGGI_Proceeds_Report_2015.pdf and RGGI, Inc., The Investment of RGGI Proceeds in 2016, September 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005040840/https://www.rggi.org/sites/default/files/Uploads/Proceeds/RGGI_Proceeds_Report_2016.pdf.
[ii] Savings are over the lifetime of the clean energy upgrades and are based on the assumption that New Jersey achieves the same savings per dollar invested as the nine states currently in RGGI obtained in 2016. This estimate assumes New Jersey invests $344 million from 2020 to 2030, based on an emissions cap of 12 million tons and a carbon price of $2.88 to $3.26 per ton, per Natural Resources Defense Council et al., Letter to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, RE: Ensuring New Jersey’s Re-Entry into RGGI Includes a 2020 Carbon Cap Level That Maintains the Program’s Environmental Integrity, 5 June 2018. Data on nine-state 2016 benefits and investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and greenhouse gas abatement from RGGI, Inc., The Investment of RGGI Proceeds in 2016, September 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005040840/https://www.rggi.org/sites/default/files/Uploads/Proceeds/RGGI_Proceeds_Report_2016.pdf. Mid-Atlantic households consumed an average of 8,465 kWh of electricity in 2015, per U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, Table CE2.2: Fuel Consumption in the Northeast – Totals and Averages, May 2018.
[iii] See note 1.
[iv] Abt Associates, Analysis of the Public Health Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, 2009-2014, January 2017, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20170313222319/http://www.abtassociates.com/....
[vii] Weston Berg et al., American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, The 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, October 2018.
[viii] Connecticut Green Bank, 2017 Annual Report, no date, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005043743/https://www.ctgreenbank.com/w....
[ix] Maryland Energy Administration, 2016 LMI Program – Energy Savings Summary, no date, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20180514194457/http://energy.maryland.gov/govt/Documents/FY16%20LMI%20Program%20Results.pdf.
[x] Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Green Community Designations Reach Two Hundred and Ten, 20 July 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20180724061259/https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/20/map-summary-green-communities-210.pdf.
[xi] 126th Maine Legislature, An Act To Reduce Energy Costs, Increase Energy Efficiency, Promote Electric System Reliability and Protect the Environment, L.D. 1559, 5 June 2013, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005165534/http://legislature.maine.gov/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP1128&item=1&snum=126.
[xii] Efficiency Maine, FY2017 Annual Report, revised 2 January 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005171414/https://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/FY2017-Annual-Report.pdf, p. iii.
[xiii] NYSERDA, “NextGen HVAC Innovation Challenges” Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 3519, accessed 16 August 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005171956/https://portal.nyserda.ny.gov/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=00Pt0000007X4SBEA0, and NYSERDA, New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative-Funded Programs Status Report, Quarter Ending December 31, 2017, Final Report, June 2018, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005171907/https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/Files/Publications/Energy-Analysis/RGGI/2017-Q4-RGGI-status-report.pdf.
[xiv] Maria Gallucci, “Call for NJ Governor to Repay $65 Million to Carbon Fund,” Reuters, 31 May 2011, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181005162724/https://www.reuters.com/article/idUS63172127920110531.
[xv] Mike Jones, Transportation Program Manager/Clean Cities Coordinator, Maryland Energy Administration, personal communication, 23 August 2018.
[xvi] Natural Resources Defense Council et al., Letter to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, RE: Ensuring New Jersey’s Re-Entry into RGGI Includes a 2020 Carbon Cap Level That Maintains the Program’s Environmental Integrity, 5 June 2018.
[xvii] Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC Comments on VA DEQ’s Proposed Regulations for Emissions Trading (9VAC5 Chapter 140, Rev. C17), 9 April 2018.